How to care for spider plants, according to a gardening expert

How to care for spider plants, according to a gardening expert

When it comes to caring for spider plants, you don’t need a green thumb to grow them indoors. As one of the world’s most popular houseplants, spider plants are loved by plant parents for their ease of care, their distinctive long leaves with spiky lines, and stems that suspend (technically “displaced”) tiny spider-like plants in the air. A gardener shares his spider plant care tips to help your plant thrive, including how to repot it and ways to deal with common problems.

Spider plants

It is also known worldwide as “airplane plant”, “ribbon plant” and “spider ivy”. spider factory, Chlorophytum comosumAn evergreen tropical herbaceous plant. Native to Africa, it is found growing in a wide area from southern Africa to as far north as Cameroon and Ethiopia.

The spider plant belongs to the Asparagus family, which also includes popular landscape plants such as cacti, hostas, sansevieria, yucca, and monkey grass (Liriobi).

How to Replant Spider Plant

In general, spider plants need to be repotted about once every two years, but you need to take care of the first things first. After purchasing your plant, here are the steps to transfer your spider plant to a new pot.

Step 1: Select a new container

Unless you purchased your spider plant in a decorative container already, it will likely be in a temporary plastic container that is unattractive and less than ideal for the plant. Plastic prevents air from circulating and may eventually cause the plant to rot. Instead of plastic, choose a porous container, such as clay, and make sure it has a drainage hole. Spider plants hate sitting in standing water.

Step 2: Provide drainage and planting

To ensure maximum drainage, fill the bottom of the pot with an inch or so of orchid bark or peat moss. Minimize disturbance to the roots as much as possible, then repot the plant, adding more soil as needed, and give the plant a good drink.

It’s not necessary to hang spider plants, but doing so shows off their naturally cascading leaves and gives the plant extra space. They also look great in a plant stand or cascading from a shelf. If you decide to place your spider plant on a surface rather than hanging it, be sure not to crush its leaves.

How to care for indoor spider plants

Once you replant your new spider plant, it doesn’t require much maintenance. Horticulturalist Bliss Bendall suggests rotating the pot regularly so that one side is not constantly exposed to more sunlight. It is also important to avoid placing the spider plant directly on or in front of a heater or air conditioning unit. Temperatures between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit are ideal.

“Spray the plant with distilled water that has been left for 24 hours,” says Bendall. “If your plant is receiving a lot of full sunlight, I highly recommend doing this first thing in the morning at sunrise or an hour or two before sunset. This will ensure it doesn’t burn, get too cold, or get too wet and rot.”

Sunlight requirements

Unlike low-light plants, “spider plants appreciate bright to moderate indirect sunlight. But that doesn’t mean they can’t survive without sunlight,” says Bendall. “Established spider plants can accommodate different types of light if they are watered specifically for the particular situation in which they are kept.”

Water requirements

Each spider plant has its own water needs. Bendall’s rule of thumb is to wait until the top two inches of soil are drained but not completely dried. Also, avoid watering during peak sunlight. “If you water spider plants when the sun is high or shining directly on the plant, it will burn,” Bendal says.

“For the first month, once a week, measure how dry the soil is between waterings to get a sense of how quickly water is evaporating from the soil in your home or office,” suggests Bendall. With increased daylight (such as in summer), water evaporates faster, and the soil dries faster, so your plant’s watering needs will likely be more frequent.

“When watering a plant makes it look heavier than it did before you watered it, let the water run through the holes for at least a minute or two,” says Bendall. “Over time, you will become accustomed to the change in plant weight and will be able to know when it is time to water the plant.”

When in doubt, it’s best not to overwater spider plants. “Wait a day or two and test the soil again,” says Bendal. “Overwatering is more harmful than waiting too long between watering.” Since knowing how often to water can be difficult, consider purchasing a soil moisture meter ($11,, an inexpensive and easy way to eliminate the guesswork.

Common Spider Plant Problems

You are unlikely to have any problems with your spider plant as long as you keep it in its preferred conditions of temperature, light, and humidity. However, things happen, and here’s what to do about a few of those things.

Yellow leaves

If your spider plant’s leaves are starting to turn yellow or lime green, overwatering is likely the cause, which is usually an easy fix. “Take the plant to a place where it can receive more shade, and make sure the topsoil is dry before watering again,” recommends Bendall. Then remove all yellow leaves.

Brown leaves

If you notice the leaves turning brown, the spider has likely been watered with tap water. High salt levels in tap water are toxic to tropical plants such as spider mites, so allow it to dry and switch to distilled water if possible.

If only the tips of the leaves are brown, your spider plant is probably fine and you can prune it. “Be sure to trim the brown ends with sharp, sterilized pruning shears or use a flower knife,” says Bendall. “Cut at an angle to recreate the shape of the sharp tip of the leaves. They will snap and look like nothing happened at all.”

Bendal urges you to avoid pruning spider plants in the winter. “During cold seasons, the plant goes dormant and needs all of its chlorophyll to feed itself and survive,” she explains. “If you have to prune leaves (in winter), know that it can be risky. Do it in the growing months (in) spring and summer.”

Withered leaves

If the leaves are completely wilted, your spider plant may have gone too far. Bendall suggests waiting 10 days to see what happens. If no progress is made, the plant will likely not be salvageable.

Infection with blemishes

Despite their name, spider plants do not attract spiders or other insects. However, it can suffer from insect infestation (like most plants). Common infestations of spider plants can come from scale, aphids, mites and whiteflies. Most pests are eliminated by applying horticultural neem oil as directed on the label.

Reproduction of spider plant babies

A distinctive feature of spider plants is their small offsets. “They’re called puppies and they’re like newborns,” says Bendall, who suggests leaving them alone unless you want to start a new plant. Although you can propagate spider plants by seed and division, it is easier, less messy and more fun to start new spider plants with offsets.

“While the pup is still attached to its mother, transplant it into its own container in lightweight, easy-draining soil,” she explains. “Wait until the pup has separated on its own, then cut it into sections. You’ll be able to tell it’s established once new growth appears.”

Alternatively, Bendall says you can use the same technique to grow a few babies in the same pot as the mother. “This works for a mature plant that you want to fill out and thicken a little more.”

Troubleshooting a Spider Plant Without Kids

There are several reasons why your spider plant may not create offsets:

  • Artificial lighting. Spider plants are sensitive to day length. Three weeks of short days stimulates them to develop buds, so if they are getting artificial light that doesn’t match the decreasing day length in winter, they may not develop flowers and offsets.
  • It is not bowl bound. If there is plenty of room for its roots to expand, such as a newly transplanted plant, the plant will not feel the need to produce offsets.
  • he’s so tiny. The spider plant does not produce offsets until its root system is complete, which can take several years.
  • He is under duress. If it is too hot or cold, too wet or dry, too sunny or too shady, a spider plant is unlikely to want to reproduce. Give your plant its preferred conditions, and it will likely come back.

Frequently asked questions

  • Can you grow spider plant outside?

    Despite their popular houseplant status, you can grow spider plants outdoors in USDA zones 9 through 11 as evergreen perennials. It can also grow in zone 8, where its leaves die back in the winter and reappear with new growth in the spring. If you choose to display your spider plant outside during the summer, keep it out of excessive direct sunlight. Bring it indoors when the temperature falls below 55°F or exceeds 80°F.

  • Do spider plants help clean the air?

    While research like a 1989 NASA study has shown that houseplants like spider plants can remove toxins from the air, there is some disagreement about how effective they are. Recent studies indicate that spider plants reduce the concentration of carbon dioxide in the air by only 0.1 percent.

    However, bringing a few houseplants (such as spider plants) into your home can help improve air quality. This is because plants generally absorb pollutants in the air through the process of respiration, where carbon dioxide enters and oxygen exits.

  • Are spider plants good for anxiety?

    Houseplants are known to provide a certain level of relaxation. Studies have shown that our stress levels decrease when we simply look at plants. This applies to spider plants that are easy to care for and have a beautiful appearance.

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